The 2007 National ICT Policy (Maitlamo) defines information and communications technology (ICT) as “an umbrella term that includes any communication device or application, encompassing: radio, television, cellular phones, computer and network hardware and software, satellite systems and so on, as well as the various services and applications associated with them, such as videoconferencing and distance learning”. ICT is also defined in the 2012 Communications Regulatory Authority Act as “the technologies including computers, telecommunications, postal and audio visual systems, that enable the collection, processing, transportation and delivery of information and communications services to users”, while the 2018 Cyber Crime and Computer Related Crimes Act defines ICT as “any technology employed in the collecting, storing, using or sending out of information, including any technology involving the use of a computer or computer system or a telecommunication system”.
There is no reference to the term ‘education technology’ or ‘EdTech’ in government documents.
The 2012 Communications Regulatory Authority Act mandates the Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority (BOCRA or the Authority) to promote and ensure universal access to communication services in Botswana. The communications sector comprises Telecommunications, Internet, Broadcasting, Postal, ICT and related services. According to the 2021 Universal Access and Service Fund: Manual of Operating Procedures, the Universal Access and Service Fund Trust (UASF) has broad objectives that include to: (a) ensure that citizens and all individuals have access to a set of basic and essential communications services throughout the country, at affordable costs; (b) promote delivery of communication services to population groups and areas that are beyond the reach of service providers without distorting the market; and (c) promote development of individuals and communities through enabling them to leverage on opportunities and benefits brought by communication services. This UASF Manual of Operating Procedures guides the UASF Board, UASF Secretariat and different stakeholders on how the Fund will be managed and administered.
The 2014 Electronic Communications and Transactions Act (as amended in 2018) and 2016 Electronic Communications and Transactions Regulations regulate electronic communications and transactions, with no explicit reference to education institutions.
Policies, plans and strategies: While there is no ICT in Education or EdTech policy/strategy in Botswana, the integration of ICT in education is supported in various government policy and strategy documents.
The 2007 National ICT Policy (Maitlamo) recognizes the benefits of progressive ICT use in national development, with a vision for Botswana to be “a globally competitive, knowledge and information society where lasting improvement in social, economic and cultural development is achieved through effective use of ICT”. The transformation of the education sector through ICT is highlighted throughout the policy, with focus on the development of ICT skills for children and young adults and ICT infrastructure (Thuto Net) in schools.
Botswana’s 2004 National ICT Policy Legislative Framework and Change Report, which formed the basis through which the national ICT policy was developed, aimed to introduce ICT into the formal education system as soon as possible, both as a subject and an educational tool.
The 2015-20 Education and Training Sector Strategic Plan (ETSSP) includes ICT as part of the thematic programs that focus on education system reform, recognizing the “key role that ICTs can play in widening ease and opportunity of access to education to a wider section of the population”. One of the aims of the ETSSP is to manage the integration of ICT across all the education sub-sectors in a strategic and coordinated way, supporting the implementation of the Thuto-net component of the national Maitlamo policy. Specific objectives include increasing access to ICT infrastructure in schools, integrating ICT content in the curriculum, building teacher ICT capacity, and developing ICT skills for students, teachers, and the workforce. The change of teaching strategies to be more student-centred, using modern ICTs is also highlighted for all education levels, while the government places great emphasis on the development of human resources for job readiness and preparing Botswana for a knowledge-based and globally competitive economy.
The 2017-23 National Development Plan 11 similarly includes a dedicated section on ICT, identifying ‘ICT’ and ‘advances in communication and technology’ as one of six key strategic factors to drive economic growth. This includes the utilisation of ICT in education.
The 2018 National Broadband Strategy aims to transform the national education system by offering lifelong e-learning skills in children and young adults which will lead to sustainable broadband/ICT– driven transformation and national growth. One of its objectives includes improving access to ICT infrastructure in schools (including provision of computers and internet connectivity).
Digital competency frameworks: There is no ICT competency framework for teachers or students.
However, the UNICEF office in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Skills Development and other partners is working towards the implementation of the Digital Competency Framework for Citizens (Under Development). Through the Framework, digital champions will be capacitated to build capacity of the citizenry including the youth in different villages, teachers, people living with disability and the local leadership. In this way, the citizens will be able to harness the ICT infrastructure, especially the internet connected through the Village Connectivity Project under SmartBotswana (SmartBots) to access government and other services online.
Changes occurred as a result of COVID-19: There were several government documents published during or after the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, such as the 2020 National Cyber Security Strategy and 2021 Universal Access and Service Fund: Manual of Operating Procedures. There was no specific post-COVID-19 strategy for schools found.
2.2.1. Technology infrastructure and digital capacity of schools
Electricity: Botswana’s 2004 National ICT Policy Legislative Framework and Change Report aimed for school access to electricity to be addressed as a matter of priority. Building on this objective, the 2007 National ICT Policy (Maitlamo) aims for “essential ICT infrastructure components” such as electricity to be provided to all schools as part of the Thuto Net programme (School Connectivity Initiative). The 2015-20 Education and Training Sector Strategic Plan also includes an objective for the electrification of primary schools. The 2018 National Broadband Strategy further aims for all schools and libraries to be connected to power by 2019.
Computers and devices: The 2007 National ICT Policy (Maitlamo) places great emphasis on the deployment of ICTs to institutions via the provision of computers. A key goal of the Connecting Communities Programme is to provide residents of rural, remote and urban communities with affordable access to modern computers with high-speed internet connectivity (situated wherever possible in schools and libraries to reduce cost and leverage investment). The Centres will be designed to provide “universal access”, catering for all members of society, including those with physical, mobility and learning disabilities. Computers and network services also explicitly aim to be provided to schools as part of the Thuto Net programme’s School Connectivity Initiative which supports universal school connectivity. The Computers for Schools (CFS) Programme will also examine the feasibility of Government and private sector organisations “donating” surplus computers for use in schools and communities, while school -based computer repair workshops can also be incorporated into the general curriculum providing real-world skills and entry-level employment opportunities for students. In addition, the 2015-20 Education and Training Sector Strategic Plan supports the attainment a specific computer/student ratio for Botswana schools as part of its first ICT program. The 2018 National Broadband Strategy further aims to provide computers to schools.
The Ministry of Education and Skills Development has started providing schools with laptops on one-to-one (1:1) ratio basis through phased-in approach. As at December 2022, 31 of the 34 senior secondary schools in Botswana have received their laptops for individual teachers and learners, three schools are expected to receive their consignment in January 2023. Special education needs (SEN) learners with visual impairment (VI) have also been provided with ICT devices in the form of Digital Braille Note takers and Text Magnifiers. The second phase will cater for the junior secondary schools and the primary schools will come in the third and final phase.
Internet connectivity: According to the 2007 National ICT Policy (Maitlamo), the School Connectivity Initiative aims for universal school connectivity, providing schools with essential ICT infrastructure components (including Internet connectivity and technical support) as part of the Thuto Net programme. ICT use in the classroom is stated to require a basic minimum transmission speed of about 128 kbps per networked computer, which means that schools with about 80 students and more require network access at broadband levels, while schools with smaller populations can rely more on narrowband delivery. These school connectivity initiatives were stated to be provided through a central educational network, which builds upon the Government Data Network (GDN), while dark fibre networks aim to be used in support of school connectivity wherever practical. Similarly, the 2015-20 Education and Training Sector Strategic Plan supports providing schools with high speed, reliable and efficient internet access (≥128kbm) (which uses open-standards-based protocols) (ICT program 1). LAN and WiFi connectivity for schools aims to be expanded with reduced rates for internet access, while a dark fibre aims to be provided for the private education network, supporting reliable and fast connectivity to all schools. The 2018 National Broadband Strategy further aims to improve internet connectivity and access in schools, subsidised through the Universal Access and Service Fund and offered at discounted tariffs. Finally, the Universal Access and Service Fund Trust (UASF) includes intermet as part of universal communication services in the 2021 Universal Access and Service Fund: Manual of Operating Procedures.
The ongoing Village Connectivity Project seeks to connect schools to internet at the speed of 100mbps.
2.2.2. Technology and learning environments
Distance learning is supported in the 2015-20 Education and Training Sector Strategic Plan (ETSSP), which aims to establish e-learning as a standard delivery methodology. Specifically, the government supports the use of ICT with blended learning approaches to improve learning and meet the need for skills development and targeting disadvantaged and marginalized groups so that they can fully take part in education. One of ETSSP’s ICT programs specifically aims to provide open and distance learning programs for primary, secondary, vocational and tertiary levels, with the goal to develop a national distance learning policy. Finally, the transformation of Botswana Open and Distance Learning (BOCODOL) into the Open and Distance Learning University aims to provide improved access to adult and tertiary education.
During the COVID-19 school closures in March 2020, there was no specific COVID-19 Education Response Plan published for remote learning. The Ministry of Basic Education issued a press release ordering the country-wide closure of all schools (state and private), with education delivered remotely through physical learning material, radio and television programs, and online platforms with available syllabus and curriculum.
An arrangement was made with the Botswana Open University (BOU) to allow for access to their content repository by the learners in public schools through the BOU website. In addition, BOU shared printed learning materials for learners to use for their studies.
The 2007 National ICT Policy (Maitlamo) emphasises that sustainable ICT-driven transformation and national growth can only be achieved through the development of local skills and expertise, with particular emphasis on the development of ICT skills in children and young adults as part of Botswana’s goal to become a “knowledge-based society”. Thuto Net specifically recommends that ICT be introduced to learners at the earliest possible age and formalised into the general curriculum so that students acquire ICT skills throughout their academic development. Moreover, generating new and additional ICT skills in the adult population is also highlighted as an important component of the Thuto Net programme, with a range of initiatives aimed at training and job creation for those outside of the formal educational system. The 2018 National Broadband Strategy further aimed to develop a digital literacy curriculum by 2018, while the 2020 National Cyber Security Strategy aims to integrate cyber security education into the curriculum of training and learning institutions.
Botswana’s 2004 National ICT Policy Legislative Framework and Change Report highlighted that the education sector must ensure that all children gain basic ICT skills, with specific strategies that promote study in key areas such as science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM) and the expansion of STEM learning opportunities at secondary, pre-tertiary and tertiary education levels. Similarly, the 2015-20 Education and Training Sector Strategic Plan aims to integrate ICT and 21st century skills into the curriculum across all subjects at all levels, stating that there is a “need to modernize the curriculum and include more emphasis on technology and business skills that are essential for the national economy and appropriate to prepare Botswana for participating fully in the knowledge economy of the 21st century”. The ETSSP similarly aims to expand STEM learning opportunities at secondary, pre-tertiary and tertiary levels, and increase women’s participation in the sciences.
The 2007 National ICT Policy (Maitlamo) supports the ongoing progressional development of teachers, school IT managers and school heads in using ICT both as a classroom tool and as educational content. Similarly, the 2015-20 Education and Training Sector Strategic Plan (ETSSP) aims for teachers and managers to be competent in integrating ICT into management and the curriculum, an education and training system developed supporting ICT integration in teaching and learning, all teachers and managers to have enhanced confidence in the use of ICT, a training package developed for educators covering computer usage, maintenance, use of internet, school network and basic ICT education, and ICT staff assigned at all levels to provide support services. Additional objectives include the development of a teacher at pre—service and in-service competency framework for ICT integration.
Cybersecurity has been identified as a critical issue in Botswana. The 2017-23 National Development Plan 11 states that cyberspace threats and risks should be dealt with during the NDP implementation, with legislation to combat cybersecurity aimed to be developed during NDP 11. Under NDP 11 headings of ICT and Secure Cyber Space, secure cyber space is identified as one of the factors that would support the economy, in particular key priority areas of water, agriculture, power, tourism and job creation. The 2020 National Cyber Security Strategy aims to make Botswana more secure and resilient to cyber attacks, build the country’s cyber security capacity, and promote cyber security awareness among the general public.
2.4.1. Data privacy
The 2018 Data Protection Act regulates the protection of personal data to ensure that the privacy of individuals in relation to their personal data is maintained, with no explicit reference to schools. The 2018 Cyber Crime and Computer Related Crimes Act also includes provisions for unauthorised interference with data (Article 7), unlawful interception of data (Article 9), and unlawful possession of devices or data (Article 10), with no explicit reference to education institutions. Botswana’s 2004 National ICT Policy Legislative Framework and Change Report additionally aims for the protection of personal privacy, including the regulation of personal data.
2.4.2. Online abuse and cyberbullying
The 2018 Cyber Crime and Computer Related Crimes Act includes provisions for cyber harassment (Article 16). cyber stalking (Article 17), and offensive electronic communication (Article 18), although there is no explicit reference to schools. The 2020 National Cyber Security Strategy includes cyberbullying and child abuse as part of the new challenging risks and threats in cyberspace, with no specific provision for cyberbullying or online abuse in schools.
The Ministry of Basic Education (now Ministry of Education and Skills Development) has a dedicated department for ICT, known as the Department of ICT & Media Services, (though the department does not appear under the new ministry’s structure) which is responsible for directing, coordinating, and monitoring ICT utilization and educational media services for the Ministry. The Ministry is further responsible for developing and introducing an ICT syllabus in the school curriculum, training teachers on ICT, and developing programs for effectively implementing ICT strategies.
The Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology was set up with a mandate to turn Botswana into an information and knowledge-based economy, with a mission to promote the wider use of ICT and formulate science and research policies. The Department of Information Technology (DIT) in the Ministry of Communications, Science and Technology manages national ICT projects and monitors national ICT service levels. This includes assisting with ICT infrastructure development in schools. The DIT provides Internet services to all Ministries, Government Departments, and Schools.
The Botswana Communications Regulatory Authority regulates the communications sector in Botswana (including universal access and service), comprising telecommunications, Internet and ICTs, radio communications, broadcasting, postal services and related matters.
Significant progress has been made in equipping all secondary schools and over 80% of primary schools with computer infrastructures and internet connectivity. A modularised competency based ICT literacy programme is offered to all learners as the foundation for integration of ICTs into the different subjects. In each school there is a Computer Education teacher who functions as a technology integration facilitator, this teacher is responsible for teaching ICT literacy and assisting other teachers to integrate ICTs into their subjects. All secondary schools have an IT officer who provides technical support to all departments, primary schools have centralised IT support services. Senior Secondary schools, in addition to ICT literacy, offer Computer Studies as one of the optional subject under the Botswana General Certificate of Secondary Education.
This profile has been reviewed by the Ministry of Education (Botswana).